China is easing bond market rules as it tries to channel money to cash-strapped companies amid the slowest economic growth in a quarter century, people with knowledge of the matter said.

National Development and Reform Commission, one of the regulators for the nation's corporate bonds, is taking the step as it moves toward a system to allow more firms to simply register to issue notes instead of getting individual approvals as they must now, the people said, asking not to be identified. Issuers or bonds with AAA credit ratings will be exempted from the regulator's review process, they said.

President Xi Jinping is balancing vows to free up the nation's financial markets with steps to prevent a rash of debt failures as corporate profits slide. Bond defaults have increased, with solar firm Baoding Tianwei Yingli New Energy Resources Co. missing payment on notes Tuesday in the fifth onshore default this year following China National Erzhong Group, according to China International Capital Corp. Sausage maker Nanjing Yurun Foods Co. said Monday it's not sure if it can repay a note due next week.

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